It was a milestone event for Springfield College, as it marked the first time that the College had an athletics team play on national television on the ESPN family of networks. The match will air on ESPNU on July 8th at 9:00 pm EST and on July 9th at 7:00 am EST, as well as online at ESPN3.
The Russian squad is arguably the favorite to win the gold medal in the World University Games as all 12 players currently professionally in Russia, the top professional league in the world. In fact, six players are on Russia’s national team roster.
"Tonight sums up this unique lifetime learning experience, where we are growing now only as volleyball players, but as people," said head coach Charlie Sullivan. "No other collegiate men's volleyball program is playing together in our country right now, more less on national television. Tonight was a wonderful opportunity to display our program, our institution, and what Springfield College Athletics is all about."
Mike Pelletier had a team-best eight kills on the night, while Ryan Quesenberry totaled six kills. Keaton Pieper was credited with 19 assists and both Luis Vega and Quesenberry posted seven digs each.
In the opening set, both teams traded the six points until the Russians heated up from the service line, pouring on six-straight points to seize control of the game and never look back.
Springfield College went toe-to-toe with Russia in the second set, trailing just 13-11 after a thunderous block from Pelletier. Another block from Pelletier at 23-18 force Russia into their only timeout of the evening, only to have them claim the stanza, 25-18.
Quesenberry notched a block of his own early in the third to bring Springfield within 4-2. However, the Russians height, strength, and experience proved to be too much ,as they turned up their intensity to finish off the three-game sweep.
The Pride's next pool play match will come on July 10th at 3:00 pm local time, 7:00 am EST, when it clashes with Hong Kong, who is also winless so far in this year's World University Games.